Standing on her hind legs, paws posed prettily in front of her, with a pleading expression that could melt the hardest heart, our dog Harper has been the focus of many photographs as we dine outdoors in Laguna Beach. Passers-by ask in awe, “How can you resist that face?” My husband and I just laugh.
She’s a cavalier King Charles spaniel, so trading on her charm is second nature to her. It doesn’t get her much, because we are about as hard-hearted as cavalier owners come. Well, OK, I confess: She gets the occasional french fry or bit of bread. But there are rules.
Teaching your dog not to beg is a matter of consistency. Dogs do what is rewarding to them, so if you – or your toddler in a high chair – give him food from the table when he’s a puppy because he’s just so gosh-darn cute, he’s going to continue that behavior into adulthood. It’s a lot harder to teach a dog to break a habit than it is to not establish the habit in the first place.
What else can you do? My pal and colleague, dog trainer Mikkel Becker, has some great suggestions. Mikkel lives with pugs, who are equal to cavaliers in their begging ability, cuteness and manipulation skills, so she knows whereof she speaks.